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Mesothelioma drug ruling welcomed

Mesothelioma sufferers have hailed a decision by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to revise its guidance on a drug used to treat the disease.

NICE made the U-turn after examining new evidence on Alimta (pemetrexed disodium).

The drug can increase the life expectancy of people who have developed the lung cancer, which is associated with asbestos exposure.

NICE is now recommending Alimta is given to patients with advanced cancer who are able to carry out day-to-day tasks, but cannot have surgery.

If there are no appeals against the decision, it will be issued to the NHS in the next few months.

Last year, NICE agreed to reconsider its decision that the drug should not be used across the NHS in England and Wales.

It had said Alimta should only be used in new or ongoing clinical trials, but manufacturer Eli Lilly and various charities and support groups launched a campaign to get that decision reversed.

Dr Mick Peake, a consultant physician and vice-chairman of Mesothelioma UK, said: "This is absolutely excellent news for all those patients suffering from this dreadful disease.

"Whilst pemetrexed is not the entire answer to the problem of mesothelioma, it can significantly improve symptoms and prolong life in suitable patients."

Tony Whitston, chairman of the Asbestos Support Groups' Forum, said: "At last NICE has stood up for these neglected patients and acknowledged that we have a duty of care to these people that cannot be defined by cost effectiveness alone."


Mesothelioma UK

Eli Lilly